This is something I am passionate about. Many people talk with me about this, and I always welcome questions, opinions, and any other possible form of communication. While I do not believe that everyone should get married at a young age, I do think that many of us are destined for this. There are perks, drawbacks, hardship, sadness, and great levels of happiness that come from this decision, as comes with most decisions. I view marriage as the most important decision you make, and one that should not be taken lightly.
The most common question I have been asked is simply “Why?”, or a different wording of this concept. Why not wait until we are older, financially stable, employed, fully developed people? Why not wait until we can afford a wedding like ___ or spend time traveling together? Why not just move in together, that is practically marriage, right? What if we don’t actually love each other, and only our 20 year old selves are compatible? What if we grow up and realize that we don’t actually get along, or fall in love with someone else who is more compatible with our future self?
The most wonderful thing about this is the only person who wonders those things is the one asking. Never once have I wondered if I would fall out of love with my husband because I am too focused on being in love with him. Never have I thought that I would grow to a level where he could not keep up, or where he would not be the one I want, because I would not leave him behind in my growing process. If we don’t get along about something, we talk about it, realize what the problem is, and move on. Just like people who are 30 and married, 60 and married, and 80 and married. Why can’t we be expected to do that now?
My other issue is with the question of compatibility. Even when people get married, they still grow as individuals, but now you have someone to support your growth/tell you when you are being ridiculous. Now, my husband can remind me of who I am, what I want, and where I want to go when I am having my worst days. He can also support me in taking up new hobbies, making new friends, going through new food phases, etc. Yes, I may age and suddenly enjoy water polo while he finds a passion for horseshoes (I don’t really know, just go with it!). However, are all older married people interested in the exact same things? If you allow having different interests to come in between the love you share, your problem has nothing to do with your age.
However, the most important question is about money. Where will we get it, how will we spend it, can we invest it, should we really be ordering food again, do we really need a new ___, STUDENT LOANS aka a giant hole of debt, etc. Since when does money determine your happiness or your ability to love someone? Marriage is not based on the size of my ring, the possessions in my house, the amount of kitchen appliances I have been able to purchase, or anything else that money is involved with. Plus, we are both still in the student mindset which does not really allow for frivolous spending, lets be honest.
But yes, marriage is expensive. Insurance is expensive. Apparently everything you need/own/have is insured by someone, and you must pay them. Throw a wedding ring into that mix and suddenly things are even more expensive. Buying food, living space, clothes, movie tickets (hello!), gas/car expenses, and personal expenses for two is ridiculous. However, it has been the best lesson on saving, budgeting, and not frivolously spending that I have ever received. While many young marriages do end, it tends to be due to factors completely unrelated to money.
So while I understand that marriage is hard at any age, I am almost biased towards thinking it is harder for those who get married young. We are constantly doubted and often lack the family support that many “normal” marriages receive. While I am thankful to have the support that I do, I know far too many couples who are not as lucky and start their marriage off on the wrong foot. There is some kind of fog in people’s minds that does not allow them to realize that we are getting married because we love each other. Not because we are pregnant and not telling anyone (please, never ask anyone this, please please please!), not because we have nothing better to do, not because my best friend just got married and I want to be like her, not because of any reason besides simply wanting to start the journey of a lifetime with the person we will be with in 5 years anyways.
Don’t doubt young couples. Don’t stunt their growth together because a past situation left a bad impression on you or you don’t understand their reasoning. It is a hard situation to adjust to without having to impress those who need impressing. Instead, channel that energy into supporting them and learning more about their story. It is not the road for everyone, but it is a road that should be validated, respected, and not seen as abnormal. Being married at a young age has taught me more about forgiveness, compassion, compromise, love, sadness, frustration, and happiness than any other situation in which I’ve been placed. It has molded my ways of thinking and shaped me into the person I am today. It is important to be an advocate for something you believe in, and more and more each day I believe that this is my “something”.
Left: 2010, Center: 2013, Right: 2015